Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 5, 1896

Counsels to Parents

NP

February 10, 1896

Portions of this manuscript are published in CG 31, 494-495, 499, 510; AH 189. +Note

“O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, because I keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” “I have done judgment and justice; leave me not to mine oppressors.” [Psalm 119:97-104, 121.] 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 1

The treatment Christ received in His youth from His brethren was a temptation to arouse resentment, and again and again He was asked, “Why do you submit to such despiteful usage?” “It is written,” He answered, “The fear of the Lord that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” [Job 28:28.] “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. ... So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” [Proverbs 3:1, 2, 4.] Thus the world’s Redeemer was armed against His enemies; He had a treasure house filled with the most precious words. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 2

Often he was asked, “Why are you so set in being singular from us?” “It is written,” was His reply, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.” [Psalm 119:1-4.] 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 3

When young companions pressed Him to do as they did, and not be odd and singular, for they wanted His bright, cheerful suggestions, but not His particular, and as they called it, narrow and straightlaced ways, He answered, “It is written,” “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.” [Verses 9-12.] “Why do you not enjoy games and sports, as other youth do?” they questioned. “It is written,” He answered, “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.” [Verses 14-16.] 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 4

This is a lesson for all children and youth, and a lesson also for all parent as to the class of education their children should receive. “It is written” was the only weapon used by our Saviour in any contest. Through the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus has given instruction to Paul for all who receive the gospel as the power of God. Paul was as one born out of due time; he was a son of God, and his zeal was evidenced in his burning desire to make known the gospel to others. Again and again he was told, “You carry things to extremes; you are altogether too much of an enthusiast;” but he answered, “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth ye know no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” [2 Corinthians 5:13-17.] 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 5

The Christian life is a life after Christ’s likeness. Human sympathy, and human affection and ties are not to predominate, but ever are to be held tributary to Christ. He is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The world was made by Him, but when He came to His own, they received Him not. The Creator of the world came to His own home, and the tenants He had graciously permitted to live in it, as a deed of love, repelled Him. One of the world’s wise men has said, “If perfect truth and holiness were to come to our world, the whole world would be so charmed with his beauty, that it would fall down and worship him.” But in saying this, he showed that he was not really wise, for Christ did come to His own, and His own received Him not. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1:12-14.] 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 6

Every child may receive the knowledge of God if parents will remember the solemn words which have been left on record for them, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” [Proverbs 22:6.] Do not leave the child to train himself, to form habits that are altogether contrary to the mind and will of Christ. Do not allow him to form habits of his own choosing, habits of selfishness, of passion, of idleness. If a child is allowed to have its own way, to choose its own employment, to love pleasure and games above everything else, the whole frame work of the mind is perverted. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 7

The work of the parent is seldom done as it should be. Of Abraham God said, “I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.] This is the work that parents neglect, the great responsibility which so few parents understand. They see that their children are sent to school to learn of the things of this life, but they fail to remember that the most precious lessons are those learnt in the home. Children are the property of God; the life of Christ should be their example, and painstaking effort should be made to show them that the requirements of God are not arbitrary exactions, but are for their present and future happiness. Parents, <have you studied parental government that you may wisely> train the will and impulse of your children; teach the young tendrils to entwine about God for support. It is not enough that you say, Do this, or, Do that, <and then become> utterly regardless and forgetful of what you have required, <and the children are not careful to do your commands.> Prepare the way for you child to obey your commands <cheerfully;> teach the tendrils to cling to Jesus. Train them to do missionary work, teaching them to commence by practicing self-denial, by saving their pennies to help the needy or to give to the Lord’s work. Teach them to ask the Lord to help them in the little things of life; to be wide awake in to see the small duties which need to be done, to be helpful in the home. <If you do not educate them, there is one who will, for Satan is watching his opportunity to sow the seeds of tares in the heart.> 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 8

The Bible must be taught in the home. “It is written” was the only weapon that Christ used when the tempter came with his deceptions. The teaching of Bible truth is the great and grand work which every parent should undertake. In a pleasant, happy frame of mind place the truth as spoken by God before the children. As fathers and mothers, you can be the object lessons to the children in the daily life by practicing patience, kindness, and love, by attaching them to yourself. Do not let them do as they please, but show them that your work is to practice the Word of God, and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Make the Word of God your text book, and you will be able to train as well as educate your children. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 9

Do not teach your children that <conversion> depends upon a wonderful impression made upon the mind because of sin. From childhood to youth teach them to look to Christ as their Saviour, lead their thoughts to contemplate Christ; teach them that Jesus is the pattern for all childhood. But you cannot educate your children to keep the way of the Lord unless you are under discipline yourself. Give them a reason for your course of Christian obedience; show them by your practice that the Word of God is everything to you, that it teaches everything essential in regard to your duty. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 10

You can do nothing in your training if you lead your children to think that the Guidebook is not to be studied by them with your help. Do not depend upon the teachers of the Sabbath school to do your work of training your children in the way they should go. The Sabbath School is a great blessing, it may help you in your work; but it can never take your place. God has given to all fathers and mothers the responsibility of bringing their children to Jesus, teaching them how to pray and believe in the Word of God. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 11

In the education of your children lay not the grand truths of the Bible on one side, supposing that the Sabbath School and the minister will do your neglected work. The Bible is not too sacred and sublime to be opened daily and studied diligently. The truths of the Word of God are to be brought into contact with the supposed little things of life. If rightly regarded they will brighten the common life, supplying motives for obedience, and principles for the formation of a right character. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 12

Never do your children the great wrong of placing your God-given duties upon the teachers in the Sabbath school or upon the ministers. It is your <work,> parents; take it up, for you can never do a greater or more important work. You have a church in your home to minister unto; feed your little flock with the bread and water of life. This they need first of all things; it is more essential than their physical food, for by it they learn the way to life and happiness. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 13

Dress your children plainly, setting them an example in your own simple, tasteful dress. It is your work, as parents, to form their characters, that they may be accepted by God. Teach them that Jesus will receive and bless them in their earliest years. It is not essential that all shall be able to specify to a certainty when their sins were forgiven. The lesson to be taught the children is that their errors and mistakes are to be brought to Jesus in the very childhood of life. Teach them to ask His forgiveness <daily> for any wrong <that they have> done, and that Jesus does hear <the simple prayers of the penitent heart,> and <will> pardon, and receive them, just as He received the children brought to Him when He was upon earth. The disciples objected to these children being brought, but Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 19:14.] Never allow your children to suppose that they are not children of God until they are old enough to be baptized. Baptism does not make children Christians, neither does it convert them; it is but an outward sign, showing that they are sensible that they should be children of God by acknowledging that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour <and will henceforth live for Christ.> 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 14

Your children are the property of God; they should be trained and educated and disciplined for the service of God in their earliest years, because they are His by creation and by redemption. The lessons of instruction from God’s Word are to be given them as the all-essential principles in the formation of a character for the future immortal life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” [Proverbs 9:10], and as the children look to Jesus, receiving instruction from His Word, He receives them, and they become children of God. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 15

In this world there can be families that are a symbol of the family in heaven. The Word of God is a pleasant and profitable study for the young. It is the book from which, during their whole lifetime, they may obtain help and comfort and instruction, and by which they may be furnished for all good works. The words of Christ run through the Scriptures as threads of gold, binding the whole together as a complete system of truth, of which Christ is the living center. 11LtMs, Ms 5, 1896, par. 16